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Lalo Guerrero Memorial Service- Tucson, Arizona
March 23, 2005

by Mark Guerrero

     At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23, 2005 we held a second memorial mass for my dad, Lalo Guerrero, at the St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson, Arizona.  My dad was born in Tucson and spent some of his happiest years growing up there.  He married my mom, Margaret Marmion, in 1939 at this very cathedral when he was 22 and she was 18.  It's a large and historic cathedral, built in 1897 and refurbished in 1967.  Once again with only about two days notice about 700 people attended the service.  Since Tucson was my dad's hometown, he had many friends and relatives in attendance.  The Tucson memorial service, like the one in Palm Springs, was also a mariachi mass.  Local guitarist, Ismael Barajas played "Ave Maria" at the beginning of the service.  The mariachi was very good and had a strong female vocalist.  The mass was presided over by three bishops, Frances Quinn, Manuel D. Moreno, and Gerald Skicanas, who led most of the service.  He, like Father Ceja in Palm Springs, was very passionate and also put some humor into his presentation.  He knew a lot about my dad and his career and spoke eloquently about it.  In front of the congregation in the center of the altar area, was a 24" x 36" black and white mounted photo on an easel with my Martin acoustic guitar on a stand in front of it.  My dad, who had bought the guitar in 1941, gave it to me around 1969 at which time I had it refurbished.  It was the same display we had in Palm Springs two days earlier.  During a procession midway through the mass, my brother and I, along with my dad's widow, Lidia, her son Jose, daughter Patty, and seven year old granddaughter, Alana carried several items to there place in front of the alter, including a painting of my dad with the American and Mexican flags on either side of him.  Little Alana placed three little stuffed Ardillita toys in the display.  My cousin, Danny Guerrero, who's athletic director at U.C.L.A., read a prayer as did my cousin on my mother's side, Alice Marmion Barreras.  My brother gave pretty much the same eloquent, emotional, and sometimes humorous eulogy he did in Palm Springs.  I followed with a similar eulogy to the one I had done in Palm Springs, which once again included my statement on my dad's musical legacy and my closing with my tribute song, "The Ballad of Lalo Guerrero."  What made this eulogy different, however, was my reading of a poem my dad had written called "The Days of My Youth," which mentions many Tucson landmarks, and my vocal performance with guitar of my dad's Tucson song followed by my Tucson song.  After my eulogy, we had the honor of the great Linda Ronstadt singing "Barca de Oro" with her sister and several male cousins.  The cousins also sang and accompanied the Ronstadt's beautiful harmonies with acoustic guitars and an upright bass.  Linda was in great voice as one would expect.  My dad had known and sometimes sang and played guitars with Linda's father in Tucson when they were young men.  Linda Ronstadt has known my dad for many years and has been quoted as saying that "Lalo Guerrero is the first great Chicano musical artist."  See below to read "The Days of My Youth" as well as the lyrics to my dad's and my Tucson songs.  I have not included my statement of my dad's musical legacy nor the lyrics to my tribute song, "The Ballad of Lalo Guerrero," because they are printed in my article on the Palm Springs memorial mass, which I assume you read before this article.  If you haven't, the link to the article is, markguerrero.net/misc_34.php.  Below the poem and Tucson songs is an account of the reception which followed the memorial mass in Tucson.

The Days of My Youth
by Lalo Guerrero

Where did they go?
The days of my youth
The years of Lindbergh
The days of Babe Ruth 

The days of Nehi
And Betty Boop
Where are they now
The people I knew 

The kids that went to school with me
I wonder where they all can be
To see them again has become an obsession
We were the kids of the depression

When movies cost only ten cents
And every Saturday we went
To watch the serials, Oh! what rapture
We would never miss a chapter 

Old Hoot Gibson and Buck Jones
They would thrill us to our bones
We’d buy popcorn for a nickel
And watch our hero in a pickle 

FDR’s WPA
The C.C. Camps, they saved the day
Work Progress Administration
These are things that saved our nation 

Oh how I remember Safford
My beloved Junior High
It was like the halls of Ivy
It was Harvard in my eyes 

Graduation wasn’t gravy
Some of us barely got by
Old Tucson was just a baby
There was only Tucson High 

U of A there was no way
We got the school of hard knocks
You worked for the old S.P.
For Wheatley or W.H. Cox 

Suddenly we were grown up
It was time to go romancing
We would take our favorite girl
To the Blue Moon Ballroom dancing 

Model A’s were all the rage
And all the young people our age
Used to cruise down Meyer Street
How I loved that rumble seat 

Especially on starry nights
Up to “A” mountain we’d go
To look at all the city lights
It doesn’t seem that long ago 

Our first girl, the first kiss
Memories are made of this
I hope you enjoyed the trip
It’s been great to reminisce

Tucson
by Lalo Guerrero

You can brag about L.A.
And the city by the bay
You can sing about New York
But I thank that crazy stork
That ignored all of those towns
And flew on and on and on
‘Til she dropped me in Tucson

Tucson, where the air could not be cleana
And the mighty Catalinas are so blue
Tucson, your old sun could not be warmer
Old Tucson you are a charmer I love you

When your summer thunder showers
Wake up all the desert flowers what a show
Your majestic old saguaros
And your sunset I must borrow when I go

Tucson, your old pueblo’s now a city
In a way it’s such a pity how its grown
It may sound like so much corn
But I’m so proud that I was born in old Tucson

Tucson
by Mark Guerrero

Red sky in the morning, across the sacred land
And when the sun goes slippin’ down, Mother Mary won’t you take my hand
Cactus standing proudly, reachin’ for the stars
On a silent night the city lights are callin’ to me from afar

Tucson, live on
Pueblo in the sand
First built by Spanish hands
In the heart of Indian land
Oh Tucson, Tucson

Somewhere on the outskirts, down the old highway
A mission stands in the desert sands, between today and yesterday
Where people put their faith in, beliefs that run so deep
The white dove will soar, forevermore, over the city when it goes to sleep

Tucson, live on
Jewel on the desert floor
Who could ever ask for more
Mexico at your door
Oh Tucson, Tucson

Sparklin’ night meets glowin’ dawn
A peaceful moment lingers on

And meet me at the place where, old times meet the new
Where urban scenes meet rustic dreams, on corners when the day is through
And as the summer sun is, fadin’ on the desert ground
A tumbleweed’ll drop a seed and catch a wind that’s city bound

Tucson, live on
You’ve got a beautiful face
With a Southwestern grace
Such a magical place
Oh Tucson, Tucson

Words & Music by Mark Anthony Guerrero
c 1996 Mark A. Guerrero.  All Rights Reserved.

     After the memorial mass at the cathedral, friends and family drove a few blocks to the Stillman House, a renovated Spanish-style house which is used for parties, weddings, and other functions.  There were many tables set up inside the house as well as out in the courtyard.  There was a buffet and bar available to our guests.  As in the Palm Springs reception, there was a lot of positive emotion and, along with the mourning of my dad's passing, was a celebration of a full and amazing life.  After the reception, my brother and I, along with about 10 relatives, went to a local Mexican restaurant called "Las Cazuelitas," which is not affiliated with Las Casuelas restaurants in Palm Springs area.  My brother had gone there with my dad on my dad's last trip to Tucson just three months before his passing.  After an unbelievable two memorial masses and receptions in three days in two cities, my brother and I still weren't ready to let it go.  It was very comforting to be among relatives.  Our dad, who was cremated, will be interred in a private ceremony at the Holy Hope cemetery in Tucson, the same cemetery where his parents and many other relatives are buried.
 

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